Wednesday, 6 August 2014

To understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

I fully support the view that one must study the major cities to understand the most important characteristics of a society. In my view, every city in the world exemplifies at least one characteristic of a society. Benjamin Disraeli, a British politician and author said: “A great city, whose image dwells in the memory of man, is the type of some great idea. Rome represents conquest; Faith hovers over the towers of Jerusalem; and Athens embodies the pre-eminent quality of the antique world, Art.”

Firstly, people has gathered in groups since the times we can reach back in our history. The first prominent civilizations such as ancient Egypt and Babylon erected cities whose remnants can prove their existence. Furthermore, many cities are palimpsests and even though many years passed some signs of their previous forms can still be discerned. The long history of many cities confirms a permanent nature of their societies whereas the changes, for example, in cities' architecture can illustrate a dynamic quality of a society. The way people built the cities, lived in them and the type of work which they used to perform on a daily bases gives us profuse insights in their way of organization, law, hierarchy of a society, types of needs, beliefs and religious practices, philosophy and politics, customs, mores and tradition. Generally, this is what constitutes a culture.

Secondly, all major events in our history, apart from some battles, took place in cities. Undoubtedly, ancient Greece is an exemplar. Before Persian wars, Greece was rather a loosely connected group of poleis. “Polis” literally means a city in Greek or can be translated as a city-state. The poleis were famous in various ways. For instance, Spartans were conceived as bilious people and inhabitants of other poleis strived to avoid them. The city of Athens was a popular meeting venue for philosophers and renowned for their politicians. These examples demonstrates likeness of people from a city.

Thirdly, many contemporary cities depict different characteristics. Many European cities have long history and can tell us a story about their past. Warsaw has a war inscribed in its name. The Warsaw Uprising in 1944 can exhibit the determination of the dwellers of the city. They fought fiercely and mercilessly to be able to feel the freedom for at least a few days. The city was totally destroyed after the Second World War and probably in this aspect one can search for the etymology of English version of its name. Even today, the city of Warsaw exposes a very fast pace of life as it was in a war time. Paris is a symbol of culture. The Eiffel tower established the cultural trend in the development of Paris. People who live there conceive themselves as very creative and all developing artists yearn for an appreciation in Paris. Last but not least argument is the tendency of visiting a country. Indeed, many travellers do not leave city borders.

On the other hand, current humongous cities such as New York and London become similar to each other. The main reason for this situation is globalisation. People travel from one place to another and there are few cities that remained homogeneous. For example, probably Tarnów, a city in southern Poland, reflects the main characteristics of Polish society while it is rather more difficult to discern the characteristics of British society in London.

To sum up, the main characteristics of a society cannot be understood without a thorough analysis of its cities. The cities are indispensable to comprehend many aspects of societies and have been present since the beginning of our history. A city as a place of living for a society is also important for the smooth functioning and continuity of the society. Hence a city itself is a characteristic of society. Famous Greek Philosopher, Aristotle remarked that 'Man is a social animal' and a city is where this need is fulfilled. A city transforms an abstract concept of a society into a tangible evidence.

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